The ESDC recently awarded the famed national bakery a Manufacturing Assistance Program grant of $175,000 to assist Stella D’oro with the upgrading of their manufacturing facility currently located at 184 W. 237th Street.
“We have a combination of issues that needed work and this grant helps defray the costs of those expenses,” said Dennis Tortora, chief financial officer for Stella D’oro.
The improvements to the current facility will involve the purchase and installation of an automated product picking line with machinery costs totaling $1.4 million.
The company is also embarking on a comprehensive employee safety and maintenance training program costing $106,240 and a facility upgrade, involving roof repairs, at a cost of $126,800.
“Plans for the building will take place a little later in the fall, new equipment is on its way and the training is an ongoing process,” Tortora continued. “This will help us increase our productivity and allow us to consistently put out the quality product people have come to expect from Stella D’oro.”
Founded in 1930, as a neighborhood bakery, Stella D’oro has grown to become a leading U.S. brand of premium specialty cookies, breakfast treats, biscotti and breadsticks.
The proud Bronx business pledges to retain 132 jobs and create 24 new jobs. “We are looking to expand our operations,” said Tortora. “We’re under capacity right now and we want to make better use of the space we are in.”
ESDC was impressed with Stella D’oro’s efforts, approving its application for the MAP grant with plans to pay out the money throughout the year, as various aspects of its optimistic plans are completed.
“For more than 70 years, Stella D’oro has shown their dedication and commitment to sustaining New York’s economy,” said ESDC Downstate president Avi Schick. “With the upgrading of their manufacturing facility here in the Bronx and their pledge to retain and create jobs, we can help to ensure that our economy continues to thrive in communities throughout New York State.”
On the same token, the grant allows Stella D’oro to continue doing business in the only home it knows.
“This is a high cost area and when there is a lot of competition, some companies choose to do business in cheaper environments,” said Tortora. “But we chose to stay here and it is very important to have government monies available that reduce your fixed overhead and allow companies to thrive in such communities like the Bronx.
“We’re an icon in the City,” Tortora added. “Our products are very well regarded and fondly remembered by so many people. Anyone who has ever driven down the Deegan Expressway knows the smell of our cookies. Drivers can keep their windows open and enjoy that smell for many more years to come.”
For more information on how to apply for a MAP grant, visit www.nylovesbiz.com.
©2008 Community News Group